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faith in Christ, keep the Sabbath holy to God, pray in private and in the domestic circle, attend on the public ministry of the word, be baptized, and celebrate the Lord's supper. None of our rulers have the consent of their Maker, that they should be Pagans, Socinians, Mussulmen, Deists, the opponents of Christianity; and a religious people should never think of giving them permission, as public officers, to be and do, what they might not lawfully be and do, as private individuals. If a man may not be a gambler and drink to intoxication in the western wilds, he' may not at the seat of government; if he may not with the approbation of his fellow citizens, in a little village of the north, deny " the true God and eternal life," he may not countenance, abet, and support those who deny the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ at Washington. In other words, our Presidents, Secretaries of the Government, Senators and other Representatives in Congress, Governors of States, Judges, State Legislators, Justices of the Peace, and City Magistrates, are just as much bound as any other persons in the United States, to be orthodox in their faith, and virtuous and religious in their whole deportment. They may no more lawfully be bad husbands, wicked parents, men of heretical opinions, or men of dissolute lives, than the obscure individual who would be sent to Bridewell for his blasphemy or debauchery.
God, my hearers, requires a Christian faith, a Christian profession, and a Christian practice of all our public men; and we as Christian citizens ought, by the publication of our opinions, to require the same.
Secondly, Since it is the duty of all our rulers to serve the Lord and kiss the Son of God, it must be most manifestly the duty of all our Christian fellow-citizens to honour the Lord Jesus Christ and promote christianity by electing and supporting as public officers the friends of our blessed Saviour. Let it only be granted, that Christians have the same rights and privileges in exercising the elective franchise, which are here accorded to Jews and Infidels, and we ask no other evidence to show, that those who prefer a Christian ruler, may unite in supporting him, in preference to any one of a different character. It shall cheerfully be granted, that every citizen is eligible to every office, what
ever may be his religious opinions and moral character; and that every one may constitutionally support any person whom he may choose ; but it will not hence follow, that he is without accountability to his Divine Master for his choice; or that he may lay aside all his Christian principles and feelings when he selects his ticket and presents it at the polls. “In all thy ways acknowledge him,” is a maxim which should dwell in a Christian's mind on the day of a public election as much as on the Sabbath ; and which should govern him when conspiring with others to honour Christ, either at the Lord's table, or in the election of a Chief Magistrate. In elucidating the duty of private Christians in relation to the choice of their civil rulers, it seems to me necessary to remark,
1. That every Christian who has the right and the opportunity of exercising the elective franchise ought to do it. Many pious people feel so much disgust at the manner in which elections are conducted, from the first nomination to the closing of the polls, that they relinquish their right of voting for years together. But if all pious people were to conduct thus, then our rulers would be wholly elected by the impious. If all good men are to absent themselves from elections, then the bad will have the entire transaction of our public business.
If the wise, the prudent, the temperate, the friends of God and of their country do not endeavour to control our elections, they will be controlled by others : and if one good man may, without any reasonable excuse, absent himself, then all may. Fellow Christians, the love of Christ and of our fellow-men should forbid us to yield the choice of our civil rulers into the hands of selfish office hunters, and the miserable tools of their party politics. If all the truly religious men of our nation would be punctual and persevering in their endeavours to have good men chosen to fill all our national and state offices of honour, power and trust, THEIR WEIGHT would soon be felt by politicians; and those who care little for the religion of the Bible, would, for their own interest, consult the reasonable wishes of the great mass of Christians throughout our land. If any good men in the community ought to abstain from the exercise of their rights in relation to the choice of civil rulers, they
are those clergymen whose hearers are unhappily divided by the bitterness of party spirit. If it would prevent their usefulness as ministers of the gospel to show that they have any judgment and choice about public concerns, they may, doubtless, from expediency, refrain from yoting for any one --but none have a right to disfranchise them, (as the state of New York has done,) for fearing God and working righteousness.
It is a pleasure to be able to say, however, that the people of my pastoral care never interfered with my personal rights as a citizen and a christian ; and in most instances I am persuaded, that even a divided congregation will be perfectly willing that their pastor shall vote as he thinks best, if he will do it without becoming a preacher of party politics.
Some connect the idea of giving a vote, with the electioneering tricks which are too commonly the disgrace of a free people, but there is no necessary connection between voting and the suborning of votes. Let all the good set a worthy example in this matter, and discountenance those who would purchase to themselves places, by promises, lies
, strong drink, and noisy declamation at taverns, grog-shops and the polls, and these abominations, which have become too common in our land, will in a great measure cease. I could wish to see every professing Christian in attendance on elections ; but rather let him never give a vote, than receive a treat for his suffrage.
I propose, fellow-citizens, a new sort of union, or, if you please, a Christian party in politics, which I am exceedingly desirous all good men in our country should join : not by subscribing a constitution and the formation of a new society, to be added to the scores which now exist; but by adopting, avowing, and determining to act upon, truly religious principles in all civil matters. I am aware that the true Christians of our country are divided into many ferent denominations; who have, alas! too many points of jealousy and collision ; still, a union to a very great extent
, and for the most valuable purposes is not impracticable
2. All Christians, of all denominations, may, and ought to, agree in determining, that they will never wittingly sup
port for any public office, any person whom they know or believe to sustain, at the time of his proposed election, a bad moral character. In this, thousands of moralists, who
profess no experimental acquaintance with Christianity, might unite and co-operate with our Christian party. And surely, it is not impossible, nor unreasonable for all classes of Christians to say within themselves, no man that we have reason to think is a liar, thief, gambler, murderer, debauchee, spendthrift, or openly immoral person in any way, shall have our support at any election. REFORMATION should not only be allowed, but encouraged; for it would be requiring too much to insist upon it, that a candidate for office shall always have sustained an unblemished moral character, and it would be unchristian not to forgive and support one who has proved his repentance by recantation and a considerable course of new obedience.
Some of the best of men were once vile; but they have been washed from their sins. Present good moral character should be considered as essential to every candidate for the post of honour. In this affair I know we are very much dependent on testimony, and that we may be deceived ; especially in those controverted elections in which all manner of falsehoods are invented and vended, wholesale and retail, against some of the most distinguished men of our country: but after all, we must exercise our candour and best discretion, as we do in other matters of belief. We must weigh evidence, and depend most on those who appear the most competent and credible witnesses. It will be natural for us to believe a man's neighbours and acquaintances in preference to strangers. When we have employed the lights afforded us for the illumination of our minds, we shall feel peace of conscience, if we withhold our vote from every one whom we believe to be an immoral man.
Come then, fellow Christians, and friends of good morals in society, let us determine thus far to unite; for thus far we may, and ought to, and shall unite, if we duly weigh the importance of a good moral character in a ruler. Let no love of the integrity of a party prevent you from striking out the name of every dishonest and base man from your ticket. You have a right to choose, and you glory in your freedom: make then your own election: and when all good
men act on this principle it will not be a vain thing. Candidates then, must be moral men, or seem to be, or they will not secure an election.
Moral character has now some influence in our elections, but not that place which it deserves. The law of public opinion excludes confirmed sots, and persons judicially convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors against the State; but it ought to render the election of all profane swearers, notorious Sabbath breakers, seducers, slanderers, prodigals and riotous persons, as well as the advocates of duelling, impracticable. I humbly entreat, that all who reverence the Lord's day, will abstain from supporting by their suffrages the open violaters of the fourth commandment; that no sober man would vote for a tippler; that no lover of domestic purity would vote for one whom he knows to be lewd; and that no lover of order would support the profligate. Is this asking too much from the friends of good morals? Are the openly wicked fit to rule a moral and religious people ? Cannot drunkenness, gambling, debauchery, and habitual contempt for the Sabbath, be banished, by the suffrages of a moral people, from our halls of legislation and benches of justice? “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people
“If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked."
3. All who profess to be Christians of any denomination ought to agree that they will support no man as a candidate for
any office, who is not professedly friendly to Christianity, and a believer in divine Revelation. We do not say that true or even pretended. Christianity shall be made a constitutional test of admission to office; but we do affirm that Christians may in their elections lawfully prefer the avowed friends of the Christian religion to Turks, Jews, and Infidels
. Turks, indeed, might naturally prefer Turks, if they could elect them; and Infidels might prefer Infidels; and I should not wonder if a conscientious Jew should prefer a ruler of his own religious faith; but it would be passing strange if a Christian should not desire the election of one friendly to his own system of religion. While every religious system is tolerated in our country, and no one is established by law, it is still possible for me to think, that the friend of Christi